Contractors re-roof Los Alamos

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Building permits soared after July hailstorm

By Roger Snodgrass

The damage from a fierce hailstorm that struck Los Alamos in July was hard on homeowners and insurance companies, but a boon for roofers. As of Wednesday, officials of the building division said, Los Alamos County has issued approximately 600 building permits for roof repairs.

“We’ve had to double up on things and get these things out and make sure people are cared for,” said Chris Williams, head of the county’s building division.

Williams warned that a few contractors have tried to take advantage of the heavy workload in the permit office to account for work delays or to wheedle advance payment out of customers.

“We’ve had to call

several companies to say that’s not an acceptable practice,” Williams said. “It’s profoundly over the top to suggest the county is taking weeks or months to provide final inspections. That’s ridiculous.”

In a normal month, the Building Division permits and inspects about 15 re-roofing jobs a month, county officials said.  In July however, the number of applications jumped to 70, which appeared to reflect the number of roofs needing immediate repair because of leaks.

Those requests were fast-tracked, so that permits were issued in

24 hours.

Then the applications doubled in August to 145, and these were reviewed quickly, in 2.25 days on average.

The flood of applications peaked in September with 153, according to the county’s count, and an average review time of 4.2 days.

“We’re averaging less than five days to process a permit,” Williams said. “As far as inspection goes, if we are called before 3 p.m. on a day, we will be there on the following work day, except for bad weather days.”

The needed repairs have meant a lot of work for local contractors and brought in crews from around the region.

Joseph Archuletta, working with Top Pin Construction Co., led a crew repairing a house on Trinity Drive Wednesday.

“There are a lot of homeowners using insurance money,” he said. “We probably have work up until June.”

Owner Mark Saunders, who lives in White Rock said his company was doing all its normal work from repeat customers, plus the storm work.

“We were busy before,” he said. “This just added fuel to the fire.”

He said an average roofing job might run around $10,000, so 600 permits by that rule of thumb might amount to about $6 million.

Williams said a lot of his time has been spent talking to insurance adjustors, explaining local requirements for a Class A roof.

One local requirement, which is not necessarily required elsewhere, is an “ice and water shield,” an adhesive membrane that goes on the overhang of the roof and on the slope of the roof just above the overhang.

“The purpose is to prevent water damage from ice-damming,” said Williams. “Roofers aren’t used to having to install that. We’ve had to remind some of them who are not familiar with that provision that we require it here.”

Much of the damage has been attributed to storms on July 5 and

6 that dumped 1.3 inches of rain on the plateau.

Los Alamos National Laboratory meteorologist Scot Johnson said the July 6 storm delivered some of the largest hail he had ever seen.